The story is all too familiar now: young entrepreneurs with the right combination of technological savviness and time on their hands develop ideas that become the basis of companies worth billions of dollars. It’s happened with Facebook, Groupon and Instagram. Twitter is no exception.
Twitter has altered the topography of the social media landscape in a way that pushes the brainchild of Noah Glass, Jack Dorsey, and Evan Williams to the forefront of almost every media event. Glass, who had started a podcasting platform called Odeo in his apartment, drew in friend Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams (formerly of Google) shortly before iTunes launched podcast access.
Anticipating the dissolution of their podcast idea, the three diverted their energy towards a social networking project based on a person’s status (the working name of the site was Stat.Us, and this was before Facebook’s status-updating capabilities). What started as a way to send text message-length bits of information to a large amount of people online developed into a favorite domain for fans to stay updated on their favorite celebrities’ mundane activities. Today, Twitter has become a powerful tool of globalization, helping humanity record history in real time.
The 2010 self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor was the beginning of several sociopolitical uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. Known as the Arab Spring, these events marked an important milestone in the development of the digital world, especially in regards to social media, and even more specifically to Twitter. The site made photos, trending topics and first-person accounts easily accessible to millions of people, effectively broadcasting a first-person view of the revolution across the world.
Twitter emerged again as a vital player in the Occupy Wall Street protests that started in New York City last fall and quickly worked their way to Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and several cities across the country. The protest’s account quickly garnered attention with constantly uploaded pictures and updates that ended up gaining over 100,000 followers. This time, #occupy became not just iconic of the protests that were popping up even on college campuses, but a symbol of Twitter’s grasp on the intersection between popular culture and national headlines.
More recently, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s furious reaction to U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul’s presentation of United States-Russian relations to a group of students via Twitter sparked a heated debate that once again brought the website to the forefront of the political world.
The growing relevance of the platform has made Twitter a necessity for thousands of businesses and establishments of all types, from car washes to Presidential campaigns. For companies everywhere, tweeting is not just a way to get their name out there, but to connect with consumers and keep tabs on the competition. So maybe it’s the way Twitter humanizes the famous and powerful, or how it feeds our air of self-importance, but if one thing is for sure, it’s that this social launchpad is #makinghistory.
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